Syrian girl raises hands in ‘surrender’ in heartbreaking photo

WATCH: A photograph a young Syrian girl has captured the world’s attention. It’s not just that she’s young and innocent. It’s that her frightened and vulnerable face reflects the misery hundreds of thousands of Syrians are enduring after four years of civil war. Jennifer Tryon has her story.

TORONTO – The photo of a little girl in a refugee camp with her arms raised in surrender with a look of fear on her face has become a symbol of the human cost of the bloody war in Syria that has entered its fifth year.

The heartbreaking image of a four-year-old Syrian girl who “surrendered” when she mistook the photographer’s camera for a gun has been shared by thousands around the world and is representative of the thousands who have died in the Syrian conflict.

Turkish photographer Osman Sagirii captured the photo of the girl at the Atmen refugee camp near the Syrian border to Turkey last December and told the BBC Tuesday the girl, whose name is Hundea, was terrified when she saw his telephoto lens.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Here’s what 3.9 million Syrian refugees looks like

“I realized she was terrified after I took it, and looked at the picture, because she bit her lips and raised her hands. Normally kids run away, hide their faces or smile when they see a camera,” Sagirli told the broadcaster.

He said the picture reveals what life is like in refugee camps.

“You know there are displaced people in the camps. It makes more sense to see what they have suffered not through adults, but through children,” Sagirli told the BBC. “It is the children who reflect the feelings with their innocence.”

Palestine-based photojournalist Nadia Abu Shaban tweeted the image along with the caption: “Thought he [had] a weapon not a camera so she gave up” which has received more than 14,000 retweets.

The five-year-old Syrian Civil War has so far claimed more than 220,000 lives, including 10,000 children, according to United Nations estimates.

The UN also reports nearly four million people are registered as refugees in neighbouring countries, in addition to 6.5 million displaced within Syria.

Earlier this week the House of Commons approved a motion to extend Canada’s campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria for a year, and expand airstrikes into Syria.

Story continues below advertisement